A former Super Rugby star has claimed the number of players who are addicted to pain killers has become an “epidemic”.

Grayson Hart, who played sporadically for the Blues and Waratahs between 2008 and 2013, recounted his story of being prescribed Tramadol for an injury which quickly led to addiction.

“It got pretty bad, yeah,” Hart told Stuff.

“It even became a bit of a fun thing to do, pop a few and kick back on the couch and get a bit of a buzz.”

However, Hart said that he wasn’t alone and claimed pain-killers are being given out to athletes “like lollies”.

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“Honestly I wasn’t too bad compared to some guys, I was definitely on the road to a dark place though. It’s really somewhat of an epidemic. I knew that, so (I) started looking for an alternative.”

After admitting to himself that he had become addicted to prescription pills, Hart found that alternative pain solution in CBD oil – another highly restricted, prescription-only drug – and convinced a number of former All Blacks to try it too.

Now, the likes of Liam Messam, Jerome Kaino, Colin Slade and Victor Vito all endorse a CBD oil product that Hart has commercialised in the UK.

@jeromekaino reaping the recovery benefits of Pure Sport CBD. #recovery #rugby pic.twitter.com/M30Zu2m9pe

CBD oil is legal under the World Anti-Doping Agency laws, but is still a controlled substance in both New Zealand and the UK.

“I started reading a bunch of stuff from elite athletes around the world, like Nate Diaz (UFC) and guys in the NFL who swore by the stuff,” Hart said.

“CBD, when done right, is a safe alternative to the drugs athletes are traditionally filled with. That stuff is not good and I have seen the dark side of it.”

The ex-Ospreys skipper is set to return to action against Saracens this weekend, but he was in no mood to sugarcoat the situation at the region, who are bottom of their PRO14 conference and their Heineken Champions Cup Pool.

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Now playing in the UK’s RFU Championship for the Bedford Blues, Hart says CBD oil’s effectiveness in treating his pain and helping with recovery has been life-changing.

“My inflammation went way down and my sleep improved out of sight,” he said.

“I didn’t feel anymore like I needed painkillers which was a first in I don’t know how long.”

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